Beverly Dennis, a former child actress in Chicago who starred on Broadway and was featured in Hollywood films, and who lost her career when she was blacklisted in the early 1950s, died Jan. 20 of multiple myeloma. She was 79.
Born Beverly Maxine Omensky in Rahway, N.J., and raised in Chicago, Dennis began performing at the age of 10. In 1951, she was brought to Hollywood by director William Wellman to be featured in his film “Westward the Women,” written by Frank Capra. That same year she was featured in “Take Care of My Little Girl,” written by Julius and Phillip Epstein and directed by Jean Negulesco.
She played Red Buttons’ wife on “The Red Buttons Show” on CBS in the early ’50s.
Buttons met Dennis at the Actors Studio through Elia Kazan, who suggested he audition with Dennis for him and Tennessee Williams for the leads in “Camino Real.”
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By 1952, Dennis’ name began to appear on blacklists supplied to the networks by Red Channels, a pamphlet listing the names of hundreds of writers, directors and performers who the org claimed had been members of subversive organizations. She said pressure from the network forced her to leave “The Red Buttons Show” and she was no longer able to work in films and television.
In 1953, Dennis starred in the Broadway revival of “Charley’s Aunt” directed by and co-starring Jose Ferrer. She also was featured in Arthur Miller’s play “All My Sons” on Broadway.
With her acting career curtailed, Dennis attended NYU and Columbia U., becoming a psychotherapist. In 1977, she moved her home and practice to Beverly Hills, where she treated many clients in the film industry. She was seeing clients until November.
Her first marriage was to actor Russell Dennis, who also was blacklisted. He became a doctor and died in 1963. Her second husband, Jerry Cramer, died in 1983.
She is survived by daughter Amanda Cramer, a composer and musician who currently plays with band the Psychedelic Furs.